Essay on Romanticism: Romanticism and Romanticism Alejandro Figueroa

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Alejandro Figueroa
HUM/266 Art through the Ages
October 11, 2012
Gregory Beasley

Romanticism If there is a truth in art, that truth would be that it is constantly changing and evolving. Artists’ styles are created by the era they live in. Everything from politics to the region they live in influence their style. In the late eighteenth century there was a philosophical movement focused on emotion. It became known as Kantian idealism or Romanticism. Immanuel Kant is the man who gave it its name sake. One of the great ideals of Romanticism would be that the nature of reality is of the nature of the mind. What this is saying is that an individual’s reality is what that individual perceives in his own cognition. This gave artist so much opportunity for expression. Romanticism emerged as a reaction against the over bearing rationalism in the arts during the 18th century. Thus emphasis in Romanticism was put on individualism, imagination, and free thinking. Also Romantic artist were thought to have the ultimate insight into the fundamentals of reality. All of the art in this era showed great creativity and the ability to break from social molds.

Painting was no exception from this. During the Romantic era painters showed how they longed to break the cuffs of social and artistic rules. They now were able to truly explore their artistic genius. The French novelist Emile Zola was quoted as saying “A work of art is part of the Universe as seen through a temperament.” In this era the artist explored how color and line were able to affect the viewers. They explored new ways to convey their ideals that before would have been seen as taboo. In Francisco Goya’s “Execution of The Citizens of Madrid, May 3, 1808” this fact is very apparent. Not only is the art cutting edge, it pushes the envelope of social and political boundaries. In this painting the scene portrayed is a conflict between Madrid citizens and soldiers from Napoleon’s army. The focal point is obviously soldiers pointing their weapons at a man whose arms are thrown up in submission. In this particular painting one of the most noticeable elements is the lack of detail in the French soldiers. The viewer cannot see their faces and the lines surrounding them are very murky and blurred. Goya does not give the soldiers identity because he does not give them the right of identity. He almost dehumanizes the soldiers. This obviously conveys a very political message to the viewer. In literature initial Romantic artist were not as dark. Literature was very much different. There seemed to be more of a push to show the unity between man and nature. One such author was William Wordsworth. A man who was able to show a beauty